As the 2023-24 NBA season draws near, Blue Man Hoop will focus on one aspect of potential improvement for every Warrior player.
After a tumultuous training camp that put his future with the Golden State Warriors in jeopardy, Draymond Green responded with an impressive 2022-23 season that saw him rewarded with a new four-year, $100 million contract.
Green remained one of the most versatile defenders in the league, finishing fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting. It was also the 33-year-old’s best offensive season of the past five years, averaging highs in points, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage over that span.
While Green’s offense was slightly up last season, it was far from a return to the days of averaging well over double-digits and multiple three-point attempts per game. The reality is that those days are now well and truly over, with any fading hope of a return to his offensive prime simply an unrealistic expectation.
Instead, Green’s improvement in 2023-24 could come primarily on the other end of the floor where he’s built his reputation across nearly a dozen years. No, it’s not the defense as such, but rather surrounds his efforts on the glass.
Draymond Green’s rebounding and the validity of a super small-ball lineup
Green averaged 7.2 rebounds last season — the third-worst of his last nine seasons. His rebounding percentage of 11% was also the equal second-worst during that time frame.
The reduction in Green’s rebounding hasn’t really impacted the Warriors over the past couple of seasons, largely because it’s been offset by the improvement in starting center Kevon Looney and his work on the boards.
However, Green’s rebounding performance could be thrown back into the spotlight with the franchise’s offseason addition of veteran point-guard Chris Paul. Head coach Steve Kerr has yet to confirm his plans regarding Golden State’s starting lineup, with the genuine possibility that Paul replaces Looney in what would result as an ultra small-ball lineup.
Such a combination would see Green slide to the five position more permanently, playing alongside Paul, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins. The validity of that lineup will almost assuredly rest on their ability to cope defensively and on the boards — elements that will be led primarily by the 6’6″ Green.
Green has his fair share of experience playing as the five in small-ball lineups, in doing so redefining a new era of basketball. However, the majority of those have been with an extra wing — most notably Andre Iguodala — rather than a six-foot Paul.
The four-time All-Star recently stated, “my goal is that we can help Chris Paul get his first championship”. If that’s the case and Paul is to be truly effective at the Warriors, Green’s rebounding may be one of the most pivotal aspects in making it happen.